2:1 Unto 1 the angel of the church of Ephesus write; 2 These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2:2 3 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
(1) The former part of this book is comprised in a narration of those things which then were, as John taught us, in (Revelation 1:19) it belongs wholly to instruction, and in these two next chapters, contains seven places, according to the number and condition of those churches which were named before in (Revelation 1:11) shown in (Revelation 1:12) and distributed most aptly into their pastors and flocks, (Revelation 1:10) which verse of that chapter is a passage to the first part. Every one of these seven passages has three principal parts, an introduction taken from the person of the reprehension of that which is evil: an instruction, containing either an exhortation alone, or a dissuasion opposite to it, and a conclusion stirring to attention, by divine promises. This first passage is to the pastors of the church of Ephesus. (2) The introduction in which are contained the special prayers of Christ Jesus the author of this prophecy out of (Revelation 1:6,13).
2:4 Nevertheless I have [somewhat] a against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
(3) The proposition first condemning the pastor of this church (Revelation 2:2,3) then reproving him (Revelation 2:4) after informing him, and threatening that he will move the church to another place (Revelation 2:5). This threat of divine vengeance Christ mitigates by a type of correction, calling to mind the particular virtue and piety of the Church, which God never leaves without recompense (Revelation 2:6). Concerning the Nicolaitans, see (Revelation 2:15).
(a) To deal with you for.
2:7 4 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in 5 the midst of the b paradise of God.
2:8 6 And unto the angel of the church in c Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;
(4) The conclusion containing a commandment of attention, and a promise of everlasting life, shown in a figure; (Genesis 2:9). (5) That is, in paradise after the manner of the Hebrew phrase.
(b) Thus Christ speaks as he is mediator.
2:9 7 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan.
(6) The second passage is to the pastors of the church of the Smyrnians. The introduction is taken out of (Revelation 1:17,18).
(c) Smyrna was one of the cities of Ionia in Asia.
2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast [some] of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have 8 tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
(7) The proposition of praise is in this verse, and of exhortation joined with a promise, is in (Revelation 2:10).
(8) That is, of ten years. For so commonly both in this book and in Daniel, years are signified by days: that God by this might declare, that the space of time is appointed by him and the same very short. Now because John wrote this book in the end of Domitian the Emperorís reign, as Justinus and Ireneus do witness, it is altogether necessary that this should be referred to that persecution which was done by the authority of the emperor Trajan: who began to make havock of the Christian church in the tenth year of his reign, as the historians do write: and his bloody persecution continued until Adrian the emperor had succeeded in his stead: The space of which time is precisely ten years, which are here mentioned.
2:11 9 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt 10 of the second death.
2:12 11 And to the angel of the church in d Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;
(9) The conclusion, as in (Revelation 2:7).
(10) See (Revelation 10:6).
2:13 12 I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, [even] where Satanís seat [is]: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in e those days wherein Antipas [was] my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.
(11) The third passage is to the pastors of Pergamos. The introduction is taken from (Revelation 1:16).
(d) Pergamos was the name of a famous city of old in Asia, where the kings of the Attalians were always resident.
2:14 But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to f eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.
(12) The proposition of praise is in this verse, of reprehension in the two following, and of exhortation joined with a conditional threat (Revelation 2:16). Now this Antipas was the angel or minister of the church of Pergamos, as Aretas writes.
(e) The faith of those at Pergamos is so much the more highly commended, because they remained constant even in the very heat of persecution.
2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the 13 Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
(f) That which is here spoken of things offered to idols, is meant of the same type which Paul speaks of in (1 Corinthians 10:14).
2:17 14 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat 15 of the hidden g manna, and will give him a h 16 white stone, and in the stone a new 17 name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth [it].
(13) Which follow the footsteps of Balaam, and such as are abandoned to all filthiness, as he showed in the verse before, and is here signified by a note of similarity, and thus also must (Revelation 2:6) be understood. For this matter especially Ireneus must be consulted as well.
2:18 And unto 18 the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet [are] like fine brass;
(14) The conclusion, by way of exhortation as before, and of promise.
(15) The bread of life, invisible, spiritual, and heavenly, which is kept secretly with God, from before all eternity.
(g) He alludes to (Psalms 105:40; John 6:26-59).
(h) Arethas writes that such a stone was given to wrestlers at games, or else that such stones did in old time witness the leaving of a man.
(16) Which is a sign and witness of forgiveness and remission of sins, of righteousness and true holiness, and of purity uncorrupted after the sin nature is destroyed.
(17) A sign and testimony of newness of life in righteousness and true holiness, by putting on the new man, whom no one inwardly knows, but the spirit of man which is in him, which is not praised by men, but by God; (Romans 2:28).
2:19 I know 19 thy works, and charity, and i service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last [to be] more than the first.
(18) The fourth passage is to the pastors of Thyatira. The introduction is taken from (Revelation 1:14,15).
2:20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit k fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.
(19) The note of praise is in this verse, and in (Revelation 2:20) reprehension, for they tolerated with them the doctrine of unrighteousness and ungodliness. In (Revelation 2:21), though they were called back to God, they did not repent. To this he adds even stronger threats and in (Revelation 3:2-5) he gives a conditional promise and an exhortation to hold fast the truth
(i) So he calls those offices of charity which are done to the saints.
(k) Often in the scripture, by fornication they mean idolatry.
2:24 But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the l depths of Satan, as they speak; I will m put upon you none other burden.
(l) He points out the bragging of certain men, who boasted of their deep, that is, plentiful and common knowledge, which nonetheless is devilish.
2:26 20 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give 21 power over the nations:
(m) I will speak no worse thing against you, being content to have showed you what I require to be in you.
2:27 22 And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.
(20) The conclusion, in which Christ assures to his servants the communion of his kingdom and glory, in this verse, and that following: and commands a holy attention in the last verse (Revelation 2:29).
(21) That is, I will make him a king, by communion with me, and my fellow heir, as it is promised; (Matthew 19:28,25:34) (Romans 8:17; 1 Corinthians 6:3; Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12).
(22) The brightness of greatest glory and honour nearest approaching to the light of Christ, who is the Son of righteousness, and our head; (Matthew 4:14,16).